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Should You Pay Influencers to Attend Your Brand Events?

  • Brett Hyman
  • June 18, 2019

Brand events are better with influencers. But should you pay them? That depends on a variety of factors, including authenticity.

Brand events and activations are a mandatory part of the marketing mix. CMOs love them, but they love them even more when influencers attend.

Influencer posts authentically amplify brand events. They organically seed the brand in culture, and tell the brand event’s story to their audience like only they can.

However, sometimes it’s unclear how to approach influencers to come to a brand event. Should you offer money? Free stuff? More access? Or should you play it cool?

Types of Influencers

The most important factor is the size of the influencer. They can be roughly divided into four sizes: micro (10k-50k followers), standard (50k-300k), and major (300k-1M). Above that they are generally referred to as “star” or “celebrity” influencers.

A good rule of thumb is the bigger an influencer, the more likely they are to expect payment to attend an event. At the micro level, they may be willing to come for free, unless they have a manager who demands more. At the major level, they will almost certainly expect payment.

That said, influencers are highly concerned about finding the right fit for brand partnerships. So if you’re brand matches super well with an influencer’s natural interests, they will be more inclined to come to your event for free. And particularly if you can offer special access.

On the other hand, if your brand is not a natural fit, they will likely demand more.

Number of Posts for Brand Events

The next consideration is the amount of posts you want them to make at your event. One strategy for smaller influencers to is to invite them for free, and hope they like the event enough to post about it. Again, access helps, as do instagrammable visuals.

Larger influencers, particularly those with managers, will expect a specific contract that lays out the amount of posts and how long they have to keep them up.

Authenticity is King

Influencers care deeply about maintaining the quality of their feeds. Most will refuse brand deals that do not feel organic. Brand events are no exception. The more authentic the brand activation feels to the influencer’s organic voice, the more likely they will want to participate.

A good question to ask is: does this event add value for the influencer’s followers?

For example, gaming influencer Anna Prosser was excited to share her attempt to conquer the Assassin’s Creed obstacle course activation at Comic Con, because it was an organic value add for her followers. On the other hand, lifestyle influencer Chriselle Lim’s Volvo partnership was a disaster because it felt so inauthentic.

To summarize, influencers are a powerful way to amplify brand events. However, they can be a finicky bunch. Therefore, it’s important to understand their expectations. Tread lightly and manage their needs when attempting to engage them for a brand event.

And most importantly, make sure the partnership adds value for their followers, whether you pay them or not.

Brett Hyman
President, Founder & CEO
I founded NVE Experience Agency with the guiding principle: "The right moment will transform someone forever.” When I am not leading a team of cross-industry experts in delivering transformative experiences, I am striving to be a cultural champion, a thought leader, and a social advocate.